HAZAEL - When the Sun Is Dead (BARON - MC 1996)
Let’s go back in time, to the early 90’s… I must say that in the years 1991-93 I was hugely impressed by some Polish death metal bands. OK, I probably still am hehe, but back then these Polish cassettes were cheaper than imported ones, so I tried to get almost every tape from such Carnage Records. And loves all those demos and albums from Ghost, Betrayer, Violent Dirge, Vader, Hazael, Armagedon, Hate, etc. Hazael with “Clairvoyant” and “Thor” really became one of my real favourites. But the common opinion is that the band has finished with “Thor” and that after this album, when they got signed to Century Media, they just lost it and didn’t have anything interesting anymore to offer. Well, I suppose it is all a matter of everyone’s taste, but I would not agree with this theory fully. Sure, the best what Hazael had to offer was already on “Clairvoyant” and “Thor”, but the follow up, mini album titled “When the Sun Is Dead” is still damn good. And definitely it is not unworthy, in my opinion. And definitely it is way better than “The Kiss and Other Movements”.
I already mentioned that Hazael has changed after the “Thor” album. And yes, they rally softened their sound. The way Hazael developed and changed since the “Thor” album reminds me actually the progression, which you could notice in some Scandinavian bands; such as Cemetery and the way they changed between “An Evil Shade of Grey” and “Godless Beauty” albums. Or how some Finnish bands were changing, like Amorphis, Convulse… Changed into softer, more melodic and way less brutal and less death metal sound.
And the same can be said about Hazael. Luckily, there are still some traces of the past style of Hazael present on “When the Sun Is Dead”. So, it is still a music slightly influenced by the classic Swedish death metal and this is why I think this EP is still worthy to be listened to. Most importantly I think “When the Sun Is Dead” contains a re-recorded / re-arranged version of the song titled “Wyrd”, which originally was on “Thor”. I am not sure for the reasons of re-recording of this track, but damn… it is truly fantastic tune and I love it. Both versions – from “Thor” and from “When the Sun Is Dead” – are excellent, both are totally infectious and memorable, with this brilliant main melodic theme, which sticks in the listener’s mind for good… Great arrangements, great ideas and just incredibly good song. Also the following track “In-Tro-Out” is an instant classic, again with a killer melodic theme and some very good riffs and arrangements. Sure, the vocals of Tomasz Dobrzeniecki may not be the aggressive growls anymore – and that is another similarity to the bands I mentioned above, like Cemetary and Convulse, who swapped the death metal growl for more understandable and less brutal vocals… But I can honestly say that I am not so bothered about that, as it still sounds pretty good, at least on most of the tracks from “When the Sun Is Dead” (I think I can say that only some vocal arrangements in “My Blood Is…” are bad).
So, these two are my favourite songs. But also such “Pride-a-Morphosis” and “Behind My Mask” are cool… On the other hand I really don’t like “My Blood Is…”. Partly for the vocals, what I mentioned already. But this song has just uninteresting riffs and really doesn’t bring anything what I would enjoy. It is close to the Swedish band called Furbowl, I think, but nowhere as good, really. Luckily the very last song, “Revenge Desire” is great again, one of the best on the EP and it’s kind of melodic stuff, in the vein of “Godless Beauty”.
So, the change in the sound of Hazael did happen. The band didn’t progress in good direction, in my opinion, I definitely like their “Clairvoyant” demo and “Thor” CD more than the last recordings, but “When the Sun Is Dead” is still worthy and interesting, in my opinion. This EP has some moments of pure genius, some totally memorable and thrilling parts… but let’s be honest, there are also some less exciting fragments. In the end though I think that the fans of earlier Hazael recordings should still like it. I do.
Standout tracks: “Wyrd”, “In-Tro-Naut”, “Revenge Desire”
Final rate: 70/100